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They’re cute, they’re cuddly… and they kill! From horror director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) and screenwriter Ed Naha (Troll) comes this 80s cult classic that combines the pint-sized playmates of childhood with bone-chilling fun. A precocious girl, her nasty parents, two punk-rock losers and a weak-kneed salesman inadvertently become the guests of two ghoulish senior citizens in their dark, haunted mansion. The old couple make and collect dolls that creep around in the night, offing the guests one by one! You may laugh at first, but if they turn on you, you’ll regret it… for the rest of your short life! (Taken from the official synopsis.)

Video


I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, my first 101 Films title, but I’m fairly pleased on the whole. The image presents natural, nicely saturated colours and has good depth thanks to some inky black levels. It’s not the most detailed transfer I’ve ever seen, nor the cleanest, as there are quite a few film artefacts on show. Having said that, I imagine some of the softness is inherent to the original photography and the artefacts are generally unobtrusive. The image doesn’t look unduly processed, although grain does look a little clumpy (but at least it’s intact). It’s probably worth mentioning that the packaging incorrectly states a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, when it is in fact 1.85:1. It’s a decent enough presentation of the film, but I imagine that it could look even better with a modern scan and restoration.

Audio


The packaging is once again incorrect when it lists a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, as the disc’s solitary audio effort is a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo affair. The track is limited by its stereo configuration, but it does occasionally deliver some neat positional and panning effects; things like the sound of thunder and the footsteps of the dolls themselves, along with dialogue. Speaking of dialogue, it’s generally clear and of reasonable quality for a film of this ilk, but there are one or two hollow, indistinct lines. The score doesn’t have a lot of presence in the mix and there’s no real low end to speak of, but this is an authentic audio track that does its job well enough overall.

Extras


The sole extra on the disc is an audio commentary by director Stuart Gordon and Ed Naha. It's a warm, relaxed track that delivers plenty of information about the creative process, making for an enjoyable listening experience.

Overall


Dolls is a strange little entry in Gordon’s oeuvre. It’s no Re-Animator or From Beyond (or even Robot Jox come to that), but it’s a quirky little slice of 80s horror that reminded me of a lot of the obscure films I watched on VHS in my youth. I can’t honestly say that I thought it was a great film, but it’s certainly not as bad as some of the genre cinema I’ve witnessed in recent weeks. Sure the performances are amateurish, but the effects are pretty neat and there are a number of fun set-pieces to enjoy. Technically the release is competent enough, with a pleasing audio-visual transfer and enjoyable, if limited, bonus material. If you’re a fan of the film or Gordon’s work in general you could do worse than to pick this disc up.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray and have been resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking the individual images, but due to .jpg compression, they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

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